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D-Day lesson plan

D-Day landings lesson plan for two one hour lessons

Aim: to familiarise pupils with basic information about D-Day and to see and hear from some people involved.  

Lesson 1

Intro background. 1944 France occupied, US, British, Canadians and some Free French prepared to retake France from the Germans. Operation Overlord. June 6th 1944. Began at dawn, even though poor weather nearly put it off. Operation involved: bombers, paratroopers, towed gliders, troop ships, warships, landing craft. In advance small groups of soldiers had landed to survey the beaches and cliffs.  

Why here?

Germans expected a landing in Calais where beaches were flatter, fewer cliffs, closer to Dover. This area less well defended.

Show this animation from here:

Any questions so far?

Then go to the “Voices of D-Day” and open a couple to listen to (requires Java and Flash player)

Try: Ginge Thomas’ D-Day memory (British woman) Eddie McCann: D-Day and Omaha Beach (American) Franz Gockel: Survival (German) Read transcript of Franz Gockel’s “Survival” extract (about 10 mins for all of these)

On D-Day we were shocked, and I, as well as the others, we were defending ourselves, we wanted to survive. They were not our enemy ... we did not know them, and we had no chance to say yes or no to what was happening. The opponent wanted to 'defeat' us, as it was called in those days, and we did our best in order to repel this opponent, and we did not think about the individual human being. When the landing troops arrived, we said that on every single boat there were more soldiers then in our entire bay of six kilometres. Each ship had a few hundred, and we had about three to four hundred. Each resistance post had 20 to 25, and each boat was spitting out 30, 50, 100. In the beginning our artillery, which was already trained at the beach, was showing us the aim. And the artillery did manage to bring the attack to a stop in the first two to three hours. 

Now show this video with colour pictures from D Day :  

Lesson 2

Brainstorm in pairs – how many facts can you note down about D-Day, based on the last lesson (5 minutes)

Feedback on the above (5 minutes)

Now pupils go to:

Give them 5-10 minutes to go through the decision-making process. Did they succeed in planning well? Now hand out this document and exercises below.  

The Invasion of Normandy (1944)

At the beginning of World War 2, Germany invaded Poland, causing France, Great Britain and Canada to declare war on Germany. By the spring of 1940, the German army was ready to invade France, defended by not only the French military, but also a sizeable British force as well. Within six weeks, the Germans defeated the Allies and seized control of France. By 1944, the Germans knew that the Allies, also now including the United States, among others, would attempt an invasion of France to liberate Europe from Germany. The Allied forces, based in Britain, decided to begin the invasion by landing a huge army on the Normandy beaches, which are located on the northwest coast of France. Code-named "Operation Overlord", and commanded by American General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Allies landed on June 6, 1944 at five beaches in the Normandy area with the code names of: Utah Beach, Omaha Beach, Gold Beach, Juno Beach and Sword Beach. Prior to the actual amphibious invasion, Allied planes pounded the Nazi defenders and dropped thousands of paratroopers behind German lines the night before the seaborne landings. Local French Resistance forces, alerted to the imminent invasion, engaged in behind-the-lines sabotage and combat against the occupying Germans. 156,000 American, British and Canadian troops met heavy resistance from the German forces defending the area, but were able to punch inland, securing safe landing zones for reinforcements. The German failure to successfully defend the Normandy area from the Allied liberation forces in essence doomed Hitler's dream of a Nazi controlled "Fortress Europe" and marked the beginning of the end for Germany. The exact number of men on both sides who died that day will probably never truly be known. Different sources cite different numbers of Allied, U.S. and German casualties: --The D-Day Museum in Portsmouth, England claims a total of 2,500 Allied troops died, while German forces suffered between 4,000 and 9,000 total casualties on D-Day. --The Heritage Foundation in the U.S. claims 4,900 U.S. dead on D-Day --The U.S. Army Center of Military History cites a total casualty figure for U.S. forces at 6,036. This number combines dead and wounded in the D-Day battles --John Keegan, American Historian and Author believes that 2,500 Americans died along with 3,000 British and Canadian troops on D-Day By the end of the of the entire Normandy Campaign, nearly 425,000 Allied and German troops were killed, wounded, or missing.  

Answer the questions using your own knowledge and the article

1. Which three major countries were the “Allies” in the second world war?
 2. What was the name of the French port where the British army had to flee from in 1940?
3. Which beaches were taken by the British?
4. Which beaches were taken by the Americans?
5. Where did the Germans think the Allies would land?
6. What was the name given to the artificial harbour in Arromanches?
7. What were the main American and British generals called?
8. What was the role of the French resistance?
9. What factor put the whole operation at risk?
10. What do the French call D-Day?

 Solve these anagrams. The solutions all have something to do with D-Day.

1. ovation or deplorer
2. lame germ loner
3. gently meager moron
4. cling and fart
5. hurray or bumbler
6. flamboyant rodent
7. ha ha! Ace mob!
8. screecher infants
9. beggar upsides
10. now write: high deeds


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